Panel Paper: Determinants of Residential Energy Conservation Among Homeowners in Florida: Extending the Theory of Planned Behavior

Saturday, November 10, 2018
Taft - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Prami Sengupta1,2, Randall Cantrell1 and Tracy Johns1, (1)University of Florida, (2)University of California, Irvine

The residential sector is responsible for a considerable proportion of the global energy demand and by 2035 the total energy demand in the world is expected to increase by more than one-third. Currently, a typical U.S. household consumes more energy than their counterparts in any other country. Globally about 21 percent of the atmospheric concentration of the greenhouse gases that causes global climate change can be attributed to U.S. energy consumption. The residential sector is directly responsible for about 25 percent of these emissions. As a result, households serve as an important target group for energy conservation studies.

Residential energy consumption and conservation is a function of an individual’s psychological and contextual factors. However, the current literature on how these two factors interact in predicting end-use behavior (such as residential energy efficiency) remains inconclusive. This is because, most studies to date have followed a mono-disciplinary approach and provided a limited view by studying either psychological or contextual predictors of energy consumption and conservation. This study, therefore, takes an interdisciplinary approach that is imperative for a comprehensive understanding of residential energy conservation. The study examined the independent and interdependent roles of homeowners’ psychological (indicated by conservation-attitude and conservation-intention) and contextual (indicated by budgetary constraint and non-budgetary constraint) factors in predicting their perceived residential energy efficiencies.

The study analyzed a sample of 1395 homeowners from Florida. A conceptual model based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and theory of marketing science assisted in developing the theoretical and analytical framework of the study. Empirical results revealed conservation-attitude as a significantly strong predictor of conservation-intention. On the other hand, conservation-intention was found to be a weak predictor of perceived residential energy efficiency. The study also found significant relationships between homeowners’ psychological and contextual factors in predicting their energy related attitudes, intentions, and behaviors. The more homeowners were constrained by their budgets, the more positive were their attitudes towards energy-conservation and intentions to conserve residential energy. However, when it came to the end-use behavior, high budgetary constraint correlated to low perceived residential energy efficiency. Additionally, budgetary constraint was found to exert significant moderating effects on homeowners’ conservation-intentions and perceived residential energy efficiencies. Finally, the study revealed that an extended TPB model serves as an effective research framework in explaining residential energy consumption and conservation. The study also provided several practical implications for the development and implementation of residential energy conservation policies and programs.

The study demonstrated that practicing residential energy conservation is a multi-level process. Consequently, the study recommends policy makers and practitioners to first consider plans and programs that assist in fostering a positive conservation attitude within homeowners through education and other appropriate initiatives. Second, the study recommends policy makers and relevant stakeholders to conduct appropriate market research in relation to prices of energy-efficient products.